Home » Texas Wildfires Pose Major Threat to Cattle Ranchers

Texas Wildfires Pose Major Threat to Cattle Ranchers

by Rafiat Damilola Ogunyemi
Texas Wildfires Pose Major Threat to Cattle Ranchers
  • The Smokehouse Creek fire, now one of the largest on record in the neighboring U.S. It has caused widespread destruction, including the loss of homes, businesses, and the threat to the state’s agriculture industry.
  • David Anderson, a professor and livestock extension specialist at Texas A&M, warned of significant animal losses, burned fields, and equipment damages. Although it’s too early for a definitive economic impact report, the potential long-term effects on grazing lands, grass, and feed are concerning.
  • Dry conditions and parched grasslands have fueled the fast-moving fire, making containment challenging. While there’s more rangeland in the eastern half of Texas, most of the state’s cows are concentrated in dairies or feedlots in the panhandle region.
  • At least two deaths have been reported, and three more active fires remain partially contained. Despite snowfall in Amarillo, Texas, officials anticipate more wildfire activity over the weekend due to persistent dry conditions and the likelihood of residents setting off fireworks for the state’s Independence Day on March 2.

The Smokehouse Creek fire, now considered one of the largest on record in the neighboring U.S. It has destroyed homes, razed businesses, and is threatening the state’s agriculture industry. According to Miller, “There are millions of cattle out there, with some towns comprising more cattle than people. The losses could be disastrous for those counties. Farmers and ranchers are losing everything.”

David Anderson, a professor and livestock extension specialist at Texas A&M. He stated in an interview with Agriculture Dive that we should expect animal losses, burned fields, and equipment damages. With the fires still roaring, Anderson said “it’s too early to give an economic impact report or any related definitive numbers”.

However, he estimated the potential long-term effects of damaged grazing lands, grass, and feed. Some news outlets have already reported thousands of dead cows.

Dry conditions and parched grasslands have fueled the fast-moving fire, and the rapid spread means “there’s not a lot that people can do,” Anderson said. While there is more rangeland in the eastern half of Texas, Anderson said most of the state’s cows are concentrated in dairies or feedlots in the panhandle region. He was unaware of any fire-related damages to those facilities as of Thursday.

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As of Thursday, at least two deaths were reported, and three more active fires range from 30% – 65% containment. Despite snowfall in Amarillo, Texas, officials are bracing for more wildfire activity over the weekend as dry conditions persist. The residents are likely to set off fireworks in celebration of the state’s Independence Day on March 2.

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Affected farmers and ranchers may be eligible for federal or state resources to help with damages from the fire. Miller called for public donations for the State of Texas Agriculture Relief Fund, which reimburses qualified producers 50% of eligible expenses. “We stand in solidarity with our farmers and ranchers facing loss and destruction,” Miller said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this challenging time, and we’re committed to supporting their recovery efforts every step of the way.”

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